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Every Level of Decision Making Needs Client Input

Every parochial school exists to serve the community. They provide their service through their graduates and alumni. The great attributes the graduates develop strengthen the community.

The board and church are the ones who must decide what the mission is and what it will promise the community. The programming and the philosophy behind the programming is the school’s professional staff and board’s decision. However, it is up to the community to guide the Christian school services.

When the school engages the community and invites the community to comment on its programming and planned programming, the school gains a large, powerful, and wealthy ally. The referrals, advocates, volunteers, and donors who engage with or on behalf of the school without prior church or school affiliation are indicators of how well the school is collaborating with the community.

The collaboration with the community must occur at all levels within the school. The obvious point of collaboration is between the community and the board and congregation, if there is a congregation. There also needs to be staff and especially teacher collaboration with the community and especially students, parents, and prospective families.

The empty seats in many faith-based schools are an example a lack of collaboration between the school and the community about the needs of the children. The product (faith-based education) is great but its delivery and presentation to the market missed the mark. As a result, customers are lost, reputations damaged, and success delayed or minimized.

As mentioned earlier, it is important that the school ensure its mission, identity, and purpose remain strong. It is important to remember that when the community questions the value or requests a dilution of the mission, it is an indication that the value and purpose of the mission is misunderstood (strengthening the community by strengthening the individual). Creating a better understanding will strengthen the relationship while maintaining the integrity of the mission and increasing the value to the community.

Next Step:

Meet with community representatives to determine the needs of the community (who needs services and what services they need)

Select the services that fit your mission

Create a plan to enhance the delivery of the needed services

Discuss the service delivery plans with the community to ensure those in need will appreciate the process, format, and depth of services

The community representatives you need to talk to are rarely the community leaders. They are usually other nonprofit youth leaders, foundation executives, and other school officials (public, private, and faith-based). They may also be the leaders of specific demographic groups. They are the ones who understand various segments of the youth market and can help you identify unmet and under met needs.

The referrals, advocates, volunteers, and donors who engage with or on behalf of the school without prior church or school affiliation are also an indication of the growing sustainability of your school and its growing engagement of the community. In addition, they are the leading indicators of increasing enrollment and student retention.

The closer you work with your community and the more you do for your community the stronger your ministry will become.

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